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Why should you visit Moldova: a charming country stuck in eternal transition

Why should you visit Moldova: a charming country stuck in eternal transition

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Sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine, Moldova is the poorest country in Europe. Many people forget that Moldova is part of the Old Continent and many people don’t even know it exists. It’s also one of those countries that everyone forgets it was a part of the Soviet Union. A fun fact is that Moldova is the second most alcohol-dependent country in the world, only falling behind Belarus. Moldova is a small, charming country covering only 33,800 square kilometers with 3.5 million residents and it’s the least visited country in Europe with only 121,000 visitors per year. That’s why I like to refer to Moldova as The well-kept secret of Europe. Here are some reasons why should you visit Moldova.

The wine and 200 km-long wine cellars

You probably didn’t know this but Moldova produces some of the finest wine in the world. Moldova is also home to the world’s largest wine cellar in Milestii Mici. There are nearly 2 million bottles in there and this fascinating underground cellar is over 200 km long! Moldovan wine is delicious and affordable: an amazing combination. A lot of Moldovans work in the wine industry and agriculture accounts as the main source of income for almost 40% of the country’s working people.

Wine used to account for $162 million, or 20% of the total exports a few years ago. But after Russia banned Moldovan wine over a political dispute, the wine exports plummeted for over 50% since Russia was the largest importer of Moldovan wine. Finally, you won’t be surprised to hear that they have a day devoted to celebrating wine on the 17th of September. If you’re around during this time of the year, this is something you shouldn’t miss!

moldova wine cellar

Get the most out of your money

If you’re a budget traveler and are planning to visit Molodava, you’ll definitely have a great time. Moldova is the poorest country in Europe. This means everything is a lot cheaper than you can even imagine. The average salary in Moldova is 4,900 Moldovan Lei, which is equal to $250. A one-way ticket for the tramway in the capital, Chisinau costs 7 cents. A monthly pass costs around $10 USD. 500 ml of beer will cost you 75 cents in the shop and $1.5 USD in the bar. There are hostels for $6 USD per night and hotels for $15 USD per night, which is really cheap for European standards. Flights to Moldova are relatively cheap too. Use this special deal by Air France and save up to 50% on your flight to Moldova.

chisinau

Go back in time to Soviet Russia

Most Moldovans have Romanian descent and these two languages are almost identical. However, the eastern part of Moldova is inhabited by Russian and Ukrainian speakers. So, after Moldova gained its independence from the Soviet Union and started developing closer ties to Romania and other western European countries, the people in the eastern part of Moldova unilaterally declared independence from Moldova in 1990. This region today is known as Transnistria and it’s even less developed than the rest of Moldova. Transnistria isn’t recognized as a country by any UN member but it’s still an autonomous region that looks an awful lot like Soviet Russia.

Breathtaking landscapes

Moldova has some pretty bad roads but there are some really amazing landscapes you can see while traveling around.  Moldova it’s a hilly country with most of its hills covered with lush green forests. The autumn is especially beautiful when the forests get golden-red. Moldova has an amazing nature and some stunning sceneries.

Hidden monasteries more than 2,000 years old

You might think Moldova is a Catholic Christian country, like most of the countries in eastern Europe but that’s not the case. Most Moldovans are Orthodox Christian and you’ll find some fascinating monasteries in locations forgotten by the rest of the world. Moldova is home to one of the oldest Christian monasteries in the world- Orheiul Vechi, a breathtaking monastery in the middle of nowhere which is more than 2,000 years old.

chisinau cathedral

One of the greenest capital city in Europe

A lot of people will tell you that Chisinau is arguably the most boring capital city in Europe. I’m not one of those people. Chisinau is a vibrant city with cheerful people, beautiful girls, and cheap alcohol. The city has mainly Soviet architecture but a lot of parks and green surfaces that add to its unique charm. To add to that, the countryside surrounding the capital is gorgeous and the life in the villages is really interesting and something you won’t find anywhere else in Europe. In Moldova, there’s a saying that translates to The one who failed to build a home, raise a son, and plant a tree has wasted his life. That’s probably one reason why Moldova is so green.

The people and their almost extinct language

why visit moldova

Moldovan people are really hospitable even though they might come across as cold in the beginning. However, once you get to know some of them you’ll see that they are very cheerful and like to sing and dance much more than other Eastern European people. Moldovan girls are also one of the most beautiful girls in the world but there are a lot of tourist scams involving these beautiful girls, so be careful. Most Moldovans speak either Romanian or Russian but there’s also another regional language- Gagauz. It’s a Turkic language classified as critically endangered by UNESCO. So, if you thought Moldovans don’t have a very rich culture and fascinating traditions, music and dances, you’re wrong!

Related: Most common scams in Eastern Europe

The weirdest tourist attraction

For being the poorest country in Europe, it’s very surprising to see a bunch of rich people flaunting their wealth in the town of Soroca. They have built some astonishing houses that look like replicas of some of the national landmarks, like Peter’s Basilica and the Bolshoi theatre. Today this town is commonly known as Gypsy Hill and is becoming a hot tourist attraction with tourists from around the world coming to admire this replica town.

In conclusion, Moldova seems like a country stuck in an eternal transition. The transition from communism to democracy certainly didn’t go as planned and Moldova is drowning in poverty and it’s the least visited country in Europe. Some travel bloggers even say that they regret ever visiting Moldova and describe the people as too rigid and robotic. Don’t expect people holding doors for you or saying “thank you” and “you’re welcome”. That’s the case in most former Soviet countries but once you make some Moldovan friends you’ll get to see how warm and hospitable people they truly are. I guess it’s just part of their culture to be more reserved. You need to understand their culture in order to fit in. And understanding different cultures is one of the main reasons for traveling.

Helpful resources for visiting Moldova

Get up to 20% off on car rentals in Moldova by using this link.

Looking for travel insurance for your upcoming trip to Moldova? Compare travel insurance carriers and their offers before booking.

To get the cheapest flights to Moldova, use this special offer to save up to 50% with Air France.

Use this Booking special offer to get the best accommodation deals in Moldova. 

And last but not least, don’t forget to check whether you need a visa for Moldova. If you do, you can easily obtain it through Ivisa. I used their services in the past and I always recommend them. 

Did this article give you enough reasons why should you visit Moldova? Let us know in the comments! 

why visit moldova
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Auleen Heffron

Tuesday 21st of January 2020

Thank you for the review. We were there in February and March 1998 to adopt a beautiful 10 month old baby. We are finally going back so she can experience her birth country, which we learned has changed tremendously. When we travelled there in 1998 it was not considered too safe for Americans. We are traveling this April. We have several friends and contacts in Moldova because we have hosted two young women from Moldova as part of a professional sharing program in North Carolina, which is a sister city, and have met many Moldovans that migrated here. They are wonderful loving and kind, exactly as you have described.

Passport Symphony

Tuesday 4th of February 2020

That's so nice of you! I wouldn't know how it was in the late 90s as I was only 5 years old in 1993 but things sure have changed. Thank you for sharing your experience and I hope you get the chance to visit again :)

Archana Singh

Tuesday 27th of November 2018

I have been wanting to go to Moldova for a long time. In fact, I do have two friends from there who keep talking about the 200 km long underground cellar. Being a wine lover and a Food & Wine magazine writer, this is top on my 2019 list.

Passport Symphony

Tuesday 27th of November 2018

If you're a wine lover, you'll definitely love it. I hope you get the chance to visit someday.

Ami Bhat

Saturday 24th of November 2018

Moldova is such a surprise package. The Hidden monasteries, the greenery and the whole culture in general. Nice to know about their language nuances as well. The post was an interesting read

Passport Symphony

Saturday 24th of November 2018

Thank you, Ami

Soumya Gayatri

Saturday 24th of November 2018

I was not aware that Moldova is the poorest country in Europe. So obviously, that makes it an easier destination for our pockets. I havent read much on Moldova. So this was an eye opener for me. The country looks beautiful. And I would love to visit some of those hidden monasteries with tonnes of history. And that wine cellar looks interesting as well.

Passport Symphony

Saturday 24th of November 2018

Yes, it is, which, as you said, makes it pocket-friendly. I hope you get the chance to visit soon

Sierra

Saturday 24th of November 2018

Thank you for this informative post about Moldova! I have never considered visiting there, but you have intrigued me to reconsider. The town of Soroca sounds so interesting with it's Gypsy Hill expensive recreations of historical places. The beautiful red gold autumn colors you mentioned always call to me. That sounds like the perfect season to visit! Thank you for presenting an opinion of the country that differs from the norm.

Passport Symphony

Saturday 24th of November 2018

Thank you, Sierra! I'm really glad to hear you liked the article.

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